I am trying to install a GFCI receptacle in the garage. The mounting screws/holes on the electrical box are closer than the cover plate. How to align the cover with the box properly? The box is 4' square. Thanks electrical box

  • That's a surface mount cover plate and you're trying to put it where a mud ring goes. Get a surface mount box like it should be.
    – Mazura
    Feb 15, 2022 at 8:01
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    @Mazura Thanks for your response. A surface mount box (without the bracket) actually aligns with the cover plate. I have an unfurnished garage and previously planned to side mount the box to a stud. It won't look nice if I use a mud ring then add a cover on top of it. Any suggestion?
    – Andrew
    Feb 15, 2022 at 10:28
  • You have a surface box? Screw it to the stud through the holes on the side. The bracket is to make life easy. But if you are going to drywall it eventually, then you should just put that and a mud ring. Do note that you will damage the ears on the gfci to get it to fit a surface plate, which you may wish you didn't do if you ever go to swap it to a mud ring, because the holes for the cover plate screws will be all bent up. I usually grind them off. You're going to at least have to bend them.
    – Mazura
    Feb 15, 2022 at 10:45
  • I don't think mud rings and cover plates have different screw alignments. This should work. I use sheet metal shears to trim the ears for these cover plates.
    – jay613
    Feb 15, 2022 at 14:18
  • I compared a mud ring with the cover plate. The screw distance is almost the same. The mud ring I have is still too tight to be aligned. (maybe the mud ring has larger tolerance but I don't think it is designed to align...) I have 3 boxes of both types and can confirm that the mounting ear/wing/tag are all in good shape. The assistant at homedepot said it's common to bend and align the hole. I tried but no luck
    – Andrew
    Feb 15, 2022 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


In this box's design, the box screws are on little "wings" that stick up/out a bit. At least one of the wings has taken a hit from being dropped, stepped on etc., and is bent in. It needs to be bent back or the box replaced.

The box is a standard 4x4 box with corner screws. It should cheerfully accept either a mud ring or a domed cover. This is a domed cover, and it's fine.

  • "A surface mount box (without the bracket) actually aligns with the cover plate." - anything will take a mud ring. Not all things happily take surface mount cover plates.
    – Mazura
    Feb 15, 2022 at 11:22
  • I agree that the flanges make this more suitable for behind-drywall mounting, but it's not like there's some brilliant "reject feature" designed into the screw spacing. There's only the one screw spacing standard. Feb 15, 2022 at 18:52
  • I am thinking to replace the box with bracket but all the 3 boxes have the same issue... And the wings are all in good shape.
    – Andrew
    Feb 15, 2022 at 21:30

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